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Why Be Good?

About the Author: Angela Carpenter is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Human Distinctiveness project. She is a theological ethicist who specializes in moral agency and moral formation from an interdisciplinary perspective, with extra-theological interests in developmental psychology and evolutionary anthropology.

 What motivates human beings to act morally? Are humans seeking to gain approval from others? To avoid punishment? Or is doing the right thing, even when the cost to personal advantage is high, compelling for its own sake? Philosophers and theologians have traditionally claimed that genuinely moral Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Marcus Baynes-Rock is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Human Distinctiveness project. He is an Australian anthropologist whose academic interests lie in the relationships between humans and large carnivores, including these relationships throughout evolutionary history.

Photo by Marcus Baynes-Rock

Here I would like to pre-empt my paper presentation for the forthcoming conference at Notre Dame’s London Gateway: Wisdom’s Deep Evolution, July 6-9. The ideas I’m presenting here are essentially in line with the paper but the data will likely be different. While I intend to talk about human-canine relationships in London, here I’ll be relying on spotted hyenas to state my case. Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Louise Bezuidenhout is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Developing Virtues in the Practice of Science Project. As a biologist and social scientist, her current research focuses on empirical ethics and uses sociological techniques to investigate ethical issues within the life sciences.

Cover of The Social Construction of Technological Systems, Anniversary Edition, edited by Wiebe Bijker et al., published by The MIT Press.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Social Construction of Technological Systems. This book marked a seminal shift in Science and Technology Studies, and introduced a new way to study technology that gave “equal weight to technical, social, economic, and political questions.” The contributors to the book argued strongly that the “social groups that constitute the social environment play a critical role in defining and solving the problems that arise during the development of an artefact” (p. 6). Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Emanuele Ratti  is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Developing Virtues in the Practice of Science Project. He is a philosopher of biology interested in the epistemology of contemporary molecular biology with a particular focus on how the field is shaped by developments from a small-science regime to a big-science structure.

Aristotle

 When we think about virtue ethics, the Aristotelian tradition naturally comes to mind. The revival of virtue theories in contemporary ethics is usually seen as an attempt to reinterpret the moral theories of Aristotle and subsequent commentators (such as Thomas Aquinas) to overcome difficulties that are associated with consequentialist or Kantian theories. Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Dori Beeler is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Developing Virtues in Scientific Practice project. She is an anthropologist whose interests include spirituality, medical science and expertise, well-being, and ethnography.

Photo: Dori Beeler

I am a social scientist, embedded in a Molecular Biology lab with a Biohazard Safety Level 2 (BSL 2) rating where I am conducting ethnography and contributing to the efforts of the lab. Sometimes this entails doing PCR amplification, purification and E. coli transformation, and sometimes it means doing mundane work, like filling pipette tip boxes that sit empty on everyone’s bench. Not even the lab scientists enjoy doing this work; it is a chore not a joy, and this is why empty tip boxes can sit forgotten in a large stack over time. Filling tip boxes does not involve knowing experimental protocols or actual science. It is merely the act of keeping productivity in the lab in a continual flow of progress, however conceived. Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Adam Willows is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Human Distinctiveness Project. He is a theologian who specializes in philosophical theology, with particular interests in normative ethics, virtue, free will theory, and philosophy of religion.

Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account (Eccl 3:15).

As I write this, it is now. I am at a particular place in time. As you read this, it is also now. Your now is as unreachable to me as mine is to you. Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Timothy Reilly is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Developing Virtues in the Practice of Science Project. He is a developmental psychologist whose work draws from a variety of approaches, including positive psychology, moral development, sociocultural theory, and action theories of development.

Aristotle emphasized the relation of particular social roles, or vocations, to particular virtues. For instance, soldiers should have the virtue of courage. Similarly, justice is central to involvement in politics. What about science? Are there virtues particular to being a good scientist? Continue Reading »

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About the Author: Emanuele Ratti is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Developing Virtues in the Practice of Science Project. He is a philosopher of biology interested in the epistemology of contemporary molecular biology with a particular focus on how the field is shaped by developments from a small-science regime to a big-science structure.

http://www.princeton.edu/~fraassen/

We talk about science on a daily basis, but we rarely qualify in detail what we mean by ‘science’. This is the kind of issue that interests philosophers. My impression is that today most philosophers would subscribe to some version of the disunity of science thesis. In a nutshell, this holds that there is not such a thing called Science—let’s say a core method, or a toolbox—that unifies all the special sciences. Continue Reading »

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